Friday, January 22, 2010

A Wolf in Punk Rock Clothing - Wolfgang and the Noble Oval and the Early Days of Punk Rock (An Interview)

Like most local scenes in the early days of punk, the history of punk rock in St Louis is a largely untold story lost somewhere between the haze of youthful hangovers and the slow alzhiemers of fruitless job hunts, countless changed diapers, and well, just growing up. But unlike most scenes, the origins of punk rock in St Louis can be pinpointed, almost to the exact minute, with the formation of Wolfgang and the Noble Oval in 1971. Comprised of two individuals who would later become among the cultest of cult legends, vocalist/guitarist Wolf Roxon (of NYC proto punkers The Tears, The Metro’s, and Walkie Talkie), and Jon Ashline (vocalist and drummer for midwestern noise-freak legends The Screaming Mee-Mee’s), Wolfgang and the Noble Oval predated the faintest grumblings of punk rock, making music that defied conventional notions of what music could be and, more importantly, who could make music. In an age dominated by the grandiosity of larger than life bands like The Eagles and Led Zepplin, Roxon and Ashline simply locked themselves in a bedroom and pounded out raw, stripped down rock songs that eschewed the style over substance ethos of the popular rock music of the day.

"The bulk of music in the late 1960's and early 1970's had lost its primitive, rhythmic appeal," Roxon recalls. "Rock'n'roll was basically dead except for oldie shows. The contemporary guitar and keyboard stars were showing off their fine-tuned skills, the writing was either pretentious or banal, and everyone looked like spoiled, boring 'rock stars.' In short, we loved basic, root rock, not overproduced spectacles."

With titles like ‘Whoa, Jonny Gimmie That Beer" and "Eva Braun, Spinnin’ Round", Ashline and Roxon's recordings provoked confusion among listeners accustomed to the pandering so prevalent in the music of the 1970s.

“Most [listeners] expressed horror and couldn't believe their ears,” recalls Roxon, who now lives in Vermont, of the reception of the bands recordings.

(Left: Roxon post-W+NO)
Roxon and Ashline met as teenagers in 1968 while working at the same Burger Chef restaurant in suburban St Louis. Both considered themselves normal teenagers at the time, but something about their relationship must have been a bit different since rather than spending their time tossing the old pigskin around, the pair spent their time obsessed with music.

"We usually hung around Jon's house, spending most of our time producing what were called “break in” recordings," Roxon says.

A predecessor to modern day sampling techniques, break in records were popularized in the 1960s by Dickie Goodman. His recordings consisted of an interviewer asking questions to real or imaginary individuals, which were met with responses cut from popular music.

“We would pretend to be interviewing fellow workers at Burger Chef and might ask, ‘What do you want from this job?’,” Roxon recalls. “The answer might be a ‘sample’ from the Beatles version of ‘Money’—the sung line ‘Just give me money—Thats what I want.’

(Right: Ashline in the mid-1970s)

“It may sound stupid and mundane today,” Roxon continues. “But that was high tech stuff back then. The average person thought we were engineering geniuses and our bosses couldn't figure out how we could be smart enough to pull this off yet unable to make a decent tasting hamburger!”

"But the real importance of this hobby," he continues. "Was that, in searching for music samples, I plowed through Jon's record collection. He was light years ahead of me. I mostly listened to top ten hits. Suddenly, my exposure to offbeat music was greatly increased by hanging around Jon who led me down the road of ruin by introducing me to record collecting."

Through Ashline, Roxon discovered the music of The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, The Godz - music which today holds a heralded place in the history of rock, but at the time was obscure and strange. Punk was still a few years out and bands like The Stooges and The MC5, while critically acclaimed, were receiving more death threats than royalties. Mixed with their burgeoning creative desires, the music inspired the duo to create their own music as well. Over time Ashline and Roxon began to experiment with writing actual songs using actual instruments and actual recording equipment in 1971.

"There comes a point when you want to do produce something of your own," Roxon continues. "I practically begged Jon to form a group with me."

"I had been writing lyrics since childhood," Roxon recalls. "I played a little guitar and could bang out a few current hits, that is, on a good day when my guitar was in tune. Every so often we would manage to have a practice session and usually, in the end, there was a mutual agreement that rock stardom was not in our cards."

But it was by the grace of fate (or Santa Clause) that the duo actually came together as a band.

"The watershed moment of our history came when Jon's little brother received a toy drum set for Christmas from K-Mart marketed as The Noble Oval. It was a toy set, not a cheap set of adult drums. You could pick up the entire kit with one hand."

"They were crap," recalls Ashline of his first drumset. "Made out of tin. The heads were crap. The bass drum was oval shaped, that’s why they were called that."

New rhythm section in tow, Roxon and Ashline began to record in Roxon’s bedroom. The sessions were impromptu with lyrics and music largely conceived in the moment.

"We started playing our own compositions basically, on the spot," Ashline says. "One take songs, we did a couple covers. Most of the stuff was recorded on real cheap cassette players in his bedroom because we had no studio per se. We’d just get the recorder out, press record, and start playing."

"Only Jon Ashline could have played those drums while singing and, simultaneously, creating lyrics," Roxon says. "Jon had natural rhythm. A solid, steady driving beat was his forte. I give him a lot of credit."

"Jon even attempted a drum solo with his toy set of drums," Roxon recalls. "We debated rerecording the solo by just throwing the drums down my basement stairs. It was a tough choice."

The second session was similar in approach but carried a different attitude.

"I had written a song called 'Eva Braun-Spinning 'Round' but we once again composed the rest as the tapes rolled," says Roxon. "The four letter words were really flying out of our mouths in this session. Both Jon and I had been dumped by our girlfriends and we were loaded to the gills with anger, frustration, and Michelob."

"After the sessions," Roxon says. "We would get together with Bruce Cole (future member of The Screamin' Mee Mees) and drive to Steak and Shake or the midnight flicks at the Varsity Theatre in University City, MO and listen to the tapes. Bruce really got a kick out of the recordings and helped us decide which songs were keepers. He also named the group by calling us 'Herr Wolfgang and the Noble Oval.'"

(Below: Roxon, center, with The Tears at CBGB, NYC)
What emerged from the sessions is an endearing snapshot of two young men fumbling through the short history of rock music in an attempt to discover their own little niche. The songs are largely simple, but not simplistic; often comedic without being flippant or absurd. You can hear the elitism of The Kinks mixing with the street corner prophecies of The Godz and The Fugs, the venomemous blasphemies of Iggy Stooge emerging from the polite innocence of Buddy Holly. It was, in a word, the optimistic beginnings of rock and roll wrestling with it's tortured future. While the recordings may lack the nihilistic bite of the punk that would come later, the Noble Oval songs were created with the same spirit that made groups like the Sex Pistols and The Ramones possible.

"Today, whenever I play our songs for anyone, their first response is “That's not punk rock!!!,” Roxon says. "The problem is that the average person defines punk rock as music sounding and influenced by the Ramones, Sex Pistols and other groups in the scene in the later 1970's—what became the sonic definition of punk. But, to us in 1970, the punk rock movement was still six to eight years in the future. Punk, at that point, had not been defined. It was more of a spirit, an attitude and an image. And if it wasn't defined in 1976-77, it certainly wasn't in the early 1970's. So we, in our own way, were redefining the character of rock'n'roll. It should be fun, energetic, aggressive, rhythmic, spirited, and simple. In the end, a whole new generation of rockers discovered what we already knew.”

“In the early 1970's,” Roxon recalls, “So many musicians emulated and imitated the stars who stood at the top of the heap. Other than the ability to imitate, they offered little. They played in the same style, wrote songs that sounded the same, and looked the same. They laughed at us because, not only were we lacking in musical skills, but we had no desire to sound or be like them."

(Right: The Screamin' Mee Mee's)
Wolfgang and the Noble Oval didn’t officially break-up. Ashline went away to college and eventually (with friend Bruce Cole) became one half of the infamous proto-garage mindfuck rockers The Screaming Mee Mee’s. The Mee Mee’s would continue terrorize eardrums throughout the ‘70s and '80s with basement recordings that carried on the ‘push record and play’ aesthetic Ashline had championed with The Noble Oval.

After Wolfgang and the Noble Oval Roxon formed the cult proto-punk outfit The Moldy Dogs in St Louis before moving to New York and forming The Tears, The Metros, and Walkie Talkie, for whom, legend has it Madonna once auditioned as a vocalist. Roxon rejected her.

"My later groups were serious attempts to become successful in the music business," Roxon says. "while we always had our kicks, especially in Walkie Talkie, we also had our disappointments, frustrations and failures lurking at every step up the food chain. Wolfgang and the Noble Oval never had this problem. We kept our musical aspirations simple and, in that sense, we were purist. As for the contemporary, universal rejection by our peers, it fueled us instead of infuriating us. We could have cared less because we really loved what we were doing."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Running Down Paul Schneider

On the Corner
Support Local Music
by Jack Partain

Sitting in his office in Rundown Studios, producer and engineer Paul Schneider seems less like a geeky recording tech than an ambassador for the craft as he explains the philosophy of his studio.

"I’ve had bands of my own." he says. "But the main thing that I was never happy about is that most studios if you’re a struggling band you’d go record and they’d just give you a rough mix and if you wanted a pro mix then you’re talking $700 hundred bucks a song and most people can’t afford that."

"So I opened this studio with that in mind, trying to provide a professional level mix with-out as much cost."

Intelligent and articulate, Schneider, who is also a local fireman and veteran musician, knows the importance of quality recording for a young band.

" I will do demos for people," he says. "But I really don’t like to. I think it’s detrimental to the band. If they’re gonna record they might as well just go all out. People make a decision within the first 15-20 seconds and if it sounds like it was recorded by the band people don’t even give the song a chance. But if it has that polish and production on it people will give it a chance. The body and the message of the song will have more of a chance to come through."
Discreetly located in a converted central Topeka storefront, from the outside Rundown Studio's is doesn't seem like the hip spot for local musicians it is quickly turning into. But inside, the building seems like the perfect place to get the creative juices flowing. Comfortable and lacking in pretension, Rundown is different from a lot of other studios in that it doesn't flaunt it's hipness. Perhaps because it reflects the personality of it's creator.

"I started construction in July 2008 and I built the whole thing myself," Schneider says. "It was just an empty space."

After officially opening in January, 2009 Rundown has pro-duced an interesting array of artists including hard rock (Come Ascendancy, Brass Knuckle Betty, Another Day Gone) emotronic (Lawrence's Shout it Out Loud!) and classical/celtic (Kansas City's Rehtaeh). A major reason for this popularity may be Schneider's hands on approach to production.

"I pretty much do everything from engineering right on up to producing," he says. "So when a band comes in, I’m the guy setting up the mic’s, I’m the engineer, I’m the guy picking what pre-amps we go through and how it’s mic’d and how it’s played and then of course I do the mixing and then I also do the mastering.

"I’m one of those guys that Iikes to do everything," he continues."I'm kind of a control freak."

Largely misunderstood by the listening public, paradoxically the producer is often overlooked in the recording process, many times thought of as little more than a knob turner sitting in a dark room pushing buttons. Schnieder says it's more than that.

"As an engineer I’m able to apply everything that I know about music and really delve into things," he says. "Take it to an art form level which is what a lot of producers don’t do. They never delve into 'If I take the EQ on a guitar and dramatically change it, what does that do?'

"Everybody’s different in how they produce, how they mix, how they record," Scheider says. "I’ve got my own little way to do things, a little bit of a unique sound, even though in todays market a lot of bands, most bands will come in and say that they want a live sound, but when you get down to the finished product they want what they hear on the radio and a lot of the time what they don’t understand is that takes a lot of backend work and of course you have to get what you need on the front end. My philosophy, the way I do things probably might be different from some peo-ple but, most of the time, the music comes out with the feel of what the band is doing."

And like any great producer, Schneider says it's easy to see himself as part of the band he's working with.

"That’s one of the fun things about it," he says. "Yes, you do become just like a member of the band. They joke around with you and you have your place in the band. What you’re doing is taking all the elements of the band and bringing them together to make a specific sound. So a producer or mix engineer ends up being very important to the group. If you stick with a person then that’s what defines the final sound. And a lot of major bands, that’s what they do, they get a producer and they stick with it."

And sticking with it is something Schneider knows something about. Music has always been a part of his life.

"I played guitar, piano and drums since I was a kid but I al-ways played other peoples stuff," he says. "I was a big Van Halen fan."
"When I was thirty I started writing music and put out a CD called Movin On. When I listen to it now it’s about the most horrible production I could think of. But it still sells on iTunes. I don’t understand why – Europeans have a weird taste for music."

And his experience in production is lengthy and nearly obsessive.

"I’ve been mixing for fifteen years," he says. "But as far as producing other people, probably the last four or five years since I’ve had a band come in and I feel comfortable giving what I consider the best for the song in my opinion."

"I’ve always loved music," he continues. "Production gives me the ability to go so far inside music. There so many things, so many sides of it, from a production side. This year I've probably spent a good thousand hours in here."

In the next year Schneider plans on focusing even more on his work and finding new bands to work with.

"I spend so many hours in here," he says, without complaining. "It’s hard for me to go out and listen to bands and approach them and say I’d like to produce you. I’d like to be able to do more of that."

But what about getting rid of that pesky ghost? Artists at Rundown have reported sightings of ghostly activity within the studio, and Schneider has photographic evidence. Paranormal fan or haunting critic?

"It's not a mean ghost," Schneider says. "A lot of bands hear about it and are like 'Yeah, that's cool'."

Visit Paul's MySpace for more info:

Artists that have recorded at Rundown Studios:
Shout it Out Loud!, Emotronic,
Another Day Gone, Metal,
Rehtaeh, Celtic/Classical/ Gothic,
Tiger Team Eleven, Metal,
Jerrod Guth, Acoustic,

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Talking Ex-Patriot Blues - Bruns on Japan

Editors Note: Todd Bruns is a native of Lawrence, KS currently living in Seoul, South Korea where he slaves away as a professional vacationer and taster of odd alcoholic concoctions. Occasionally he gets a paycheck for instructing Korean tweenagers in the wonders of the English language, of which his mastery is legendary amongst bartenders and broken-hearted girls worldwide. He also happens to be the best friend of the editor of this publication, and one helluva guy. Without further ado, his latest offering...

"Japan Thing"

It’s hard to write about Japan without going with the usual “Japan is weird” angle. Everybody’s seen Lost in Translation. Everybody knows about the weird shit you see, like pigeon-toed mini-skirted 20-something girls carrying around large pink teddy bears for no apparent reason. Robots, game shows, 4-story 24 hour arcades, capsule hotels, and anime porn; they’re all there, and they come to no surprise to anybody. Japan is different.

My relationship to Japan is also different than that with most countries. Keep in mind, I’m no weeaboo. I don’t watch anime, I don’t read manga and I’m not into any otaku bullshit. Yet, when I’m there, I think a lot about what Japan means, what it is, and where I fit into it during my short stay. My consideration of the Japanese ethos never ceases throughout the duration of the trip. I’ve spent time in a lot of countries, and when I’m in, say, Belgium or Singapore or Spain or Thailand, I don’t fret so much about this kind of thing. I’ve been to Bangkok twice, and I was certainly bewildered the first time, but the second time I landed there, I felt like I knew it, I owned it, and I sold my Lonely Planet my first day back. My recent trip to Japan was my fourth, and the third to the city of Fukuoka, but I still spent the whole time halfway lost (the lack of street names doesn’t help) and pondering the idea of “Japan.”

I presume this level of introspection comes from my familiarity with Korea. My first trip to Fu-kuoka was only three weeks into my Asian sojourn, so I didn’t recognize a great deal of differ-ence between the two countries. My friend CC was living in Fukuoka at the time, and she kept me under her wing to some degree. While talking with her, it came up that a lot of the strange idiosyncrasies of Japan exist in Korea as well - society frowning on women smoking outdoors, mini-skirts in cold weather, amazing multitude of convenience stores, people dressing their dogs, karaoke being in a small room with friends rather than at a bar, and others. Plus, at this time, I couldn’t speak or read a word of Korean, so both Korean and Japanese were total moonspeak to me.

My second trip was to Fukuoka as well, three months later. Much like the first trip, I was in town for one night to get a Korean visa. This time, armed with an extremely rudimentary under-standing of the Korean language and the ability to read it, Japan suddenly seemed vastly different from Korea. Plus, an extra three months of Korea under my belt accentuated the difference be-tween Korea and any Asian “other.” Suddenly, I noticed the cleanliness, the quietness, the less oppressive architecture, and the markedly more expensive transportation. Japan and Korea were nothing alike. I could read a menu in Korean, and I could order food. Again, I was under CC’s wing, but less so this time, she had to work more so I explored more on my own. My school had booked my hotel and paid in advance, so all I had to do was show up. When circumstances for the first time dictated that I had to find a meal on my own (between a couple meals with CC and free hotel breakfast, this only happened once), I copped out and headed to the dreaded Macdonalds.
The notion of Japanese menus and total lack of language knowledge was too much for me. I’ve eaten local in plenty of countries where I didn’t know the language, but its a lot easier to figure out, say, a German or French menu written in letters than completely indecipherable Japanese script.

My third trip to Japan was to Tokyo for five days. Tokyo is an international city. Like New York or London, it’s the capital of the world. It’s weird, sure, but it’s not that hard to figure out. I mean, New York is a challenging city to deal with, but some random Sri Lankan dude who doesn’t speak English would have an easier time dealing with New York than, say, Cincinnati.

This brings us to my most recent trip to Japan, again Fukuoka, again for a visa. This time, CC was no longer there, and the school didn’t reserve a hotel. The boss gave me a couple hundred bucks for expenses, and I was on my own. I did my usual trek out to the Korean consulate, a path I know all too well, before searching for lodging. I originally planned to stay in a capsule - they are cheap, and would make for a good story, but then it occurred to me that it would just be another “Japan is weird” story, so I headed to the only hostel in town in hopes that they would have a single room available and that there would be some cool people to meet, since I was on my own. Score on the first portion, they did have a room so I could skip the communal bunks. Miss on the latter point, after napping in my room for a bit (I was on no sleep), it seemed that nobody hanging out in the hostel’s common room had any interest whatsoever in leaving it. Not me, I had company money to spend. That, and Fukuoka is widely known for its Ramen. I wasn’t about to repeat my previous timid Mc-mistake, I was getting world-class ramen, language barrier or no.

Japanese people are widely reputed to be shier than Koreans, but this is not the case regarding the language. Koreans that work in restaurants often are reticent to speak to foreigners in Korean, and try to use the four or five English words that they know, even when it is apparent that the foreigner in question understands some Korean. This is not how things work in Japan. At the noodle shop that I ate at (reputed to be the best in town, and it was fantastic), the wait staff always spoke to me as if I were fluent. At the pachinko parlor I went to later (stupidest game in the world, pachinko, I’ve never had less fun losing 10 bucks gambling) I ran into the same situa-tion, the worker who taught me the game spoke the same way (then again, pachinko parlors are so loud, he could have been speaking English for all I know). It grew to the point where I was embarrassed about not knowing Japanese, although I was only in town for one day. Again, this doesn’t happen to me in other countries.

Maybe the reason I focus so much on Japan and it’s Japan-ness while I’m there is because it is the most similar place to Korea. The only other country I’ve had such a hyper-awareness of what country I’m in at all times is Canada. Canada is almost exactly the same as the US, except for the amazing multitude of differences that I can’t help but focus on every minute that I’m there. Is Japan Korea’s Canada? Well, pop-culturally and socio-economically, it would have to be the other way around. Maybe that’s why Japan perplexes me so. It causes me to think of myself as an Asian Canadian. Yikes.

From the Vaults #4

Witch, Witch, Teepee Records, 2006

From the Vaults
Witch is a Vermont based doom metal band featuring Kyle Thomas on vocals and guitars, Dave Sweetapple on bass, Asa Irons (Feathers) on guitar, and guitar hero J Mascis (Dinosaur JR) on, um, drums. Anti-climactic? To say the least. While it is hard to believe that the old fart resisted laying down a single lick on the bands self-titled debut, especially since metal is the one genre of sub-rock which has never devalued or mocked the majesty of the lead guitar, Witch is a grand album that revels in metal tradition without being regressive.
They might tell you it sounds like Sabbath but it doesn’t, Witch is a great deal less focused. Their compositions are tangled, hazed out mantras that drift strung-out and lazy through the subterranean echoes of Witchcraft’s sonic spelunking, and Dead Meadow’s winding chaos. But this ain’t stoner rock and there ain’t none of that southern rock nonsense metal bands get distracted by too often these days. Mascis does a respectable job on the kit abusing the skins, and Iron’s astounding resume, from the avant folk to lo-fi whispers and now metal may just prove him some sort of genius. Or the band could just be a big joke; its still to early to tell. -Jack
From the vaults is a regular series compiling the previous output of our fearlessly fearful, constantly on my ass editor/boss/friend Jack Partain. For those who don't know, Jack spent ten masochistic years toiling in the wonderfully tedious and poverty worshipping world of rock music criticism, writing inspired reviews of bands no one would listen to before he decided to tell everyone to get fucked start doing his own thing, which he should have been doing all along.
We're going to publish some of these things here from time to time in the hopes that someone will actually buy these albums that he loves. Some of these things may not even be legal to print due to copyright restrictions, which is why, in case your some lawyer asshole, we're not going to mention where they were actually printed first. So good luck tracking it down through all the indie rock detritus if you want to sue us. Oh, and when you do, tell the editor to send that check he promised. Whatever. Rock on, fuckheads.
Much love,

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Who Killed Sgt Peppers? - 2010

The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Who Killed Sgt Peppers?, A Records, 2010
Back in the day a new release from BJM just meant that a new week had begun. The band was so prolific, it seemed impossible to keep up with them. But ever since bandleader Anton Newcombe defected to Iceland, the band's release dates have become such special occasions that even longtime devotees can feel like a tuxedo and a scented invitation are required just to listen to their new stuff. Which isn't a bad thing. If there is one band out there that has paid their dues, it is BJM, and that dedication to keeping it real allows for a certain amount of well, understanding. So they've cleaned up, kicked the drugs (supposedly), and started writing lyrics in French. But does that mean they've gotten better?

That depends. The gritty, schizo genius that characterized their early work has largely evaporated over the years, and while Who Killed Sgt Peppers? shows flashes of the chaotic brilliance Newcombe was once possessed with, most of the album seems to trip itself into dance dance electronica Eurotrash shit. It lacks an organic feel and seems like it was made by a machine,rather than a human, like a Kraftwerk album. Even stand out tracks like "Unger Hinfr" are cold and lonesome sounding, as if, when you drop all the badass swirling dissonance and sassy vocals, the song itself just wants a big fat hug.

Newcombe's always been fiercly independent and adamant about following his own creative vision and dancing with the voices in his head, but as a songwriter he's always wanted us to join in. At times, he was the closest thing to John Lennon most of us had ever seen. I'm not sure that's the case anymore, which is a shame.

Local Album of the Year! 2009 Edition

Local Music
Album of the Year
Charles McVey, Animal, Impure Records
There were several great releases this year by local bands. Lawrence's Left on Northwood unleashed a monster at the beginning of the year with Gut Check Personality; veteran Topeka rockers Backlash finally unveiled their self-titled magnum opus, a fist in the air rock-on statement that was hard to ignore; and then, of course, there's Kick Kick, whose Powerplay was a flawless power pop masterpiece that still hasn't left our office stereo. But, despite the quality of those releases and several others, one album just kept kicking around our heads here at The Point, Charles McVey's gutsy, passionate, and thought provoking Animal.

It is dificult to single out one reason why Animal was chosen. It is a very listenable album of piano driven college rock that sways from the intimate to the furious with ease. Anchored by his longtime, outstanding rhythm section of Max Paley (bass) and Erik Kessinger (whose drumming is a real bright spot), McVey comfortably excercises his well-honed (and underappreciated) talents as a songwriter. It's the most focused he's ever been, and his gruff, sexy voice hovers over the recording like the angel of some broke down old time blues singer. The production, as well, is remarkable - nearly everything about this album, even the saxophone (Dan Kozak) is perfectly executed.
But Animal is more than a pop album. On the surface it is a deeply personal exploration of one mans sexual identity in relationship to his faith, and his decision to relinquish his faith because of it's hypocrisy. It is an incredibly bold statement about religion and humanity that few artists (local or otherwise) would have the balls to make. But it is more than that. Throughout the album, McVey asks questions we all should be asking, demands answers that we all should demand of our authority figures, and makes decisions we should make based on the (lack of) response received. At heart, Animal is not the personal album it was billed as, but a defiant social statement that cuts to the heart of the state of modern man. It's an album of disconnect, confusion, and, ultimately, the enlightenment that comes from the realization that all of the authority thrust on us, be it spiritual, governmental, social, or parental, does not equal love. And that nothing is more important than love. Nothing. Congratulations Mr McVey, you've made one for the ages, and made a few lives better. - Marshall Stacks
Contact Charles through his Myspace:

End of Year / End of Decade Best of Lists!

The end of the year is time to give thanks to the hardworking souls who write the stuff you read here in The Point. These folks sit at their desks for hours, staring at glowing monitors, battling hangover induced writers block and urges to just go fuck it all and get that job at WalMart their mothers keep telling them they should have, just to move a little love into the world in the form of an honest, well thought out review, interview, or editorial. Ironically enough, here at The Point, gratitude is shown with copies of The Beatles Remastered box set (which none of us could afford and were to afraid to steal online) and the option to do end of year lists instead of actually write something. This year, being the end of the decade, allows for an added bonus - best of the decade lists. Sure they're annoying and cumbersome, pretentious and forgettable, but please indulge us for a minute or two. Speaking of which... For those you out there who think that music journalists aren't an integral part of your "scene": I don't care how many hits you have on your MySpace, or how much "the industry is changing", no one is going to take your shitty band seriously for long without friendly writers to tell them why they should listen to you. Good music + good journalism = rock stars and underpaid journalists. Just keep giving me the free records and I'm happy. - Stacks

Magnus Cooper. Contributing writer, expert on noise rock and pretentious indie rock, leader of the second wave of 'spock rock'.
Best of 2009
No surprises here, guys. I like what I like, hate what I hate. Can't kill the fuzz. Kill the fuzz. Happy new year, everyone!
1. The Paper Chase, Someday this Could All Be Yours, Kill Rock*s
2. Lightning Bolt, Earthly Delights, Load Records
3. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavillion, Domino Records
4. Raekwon, Only Built for Cuban Linx... Pt. II, EMI Records
5. Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca, Domino Records
Faves, 2000-2009
1. Black Dice, Beaches and Canyons, Domino Records, 2002
2. Bright Eyes, Lifted (or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground), Saddle Creek, 2002
3. Radiohead, Kid A, Capitol Records, 2000
4. Lightning Bolt, Hypermagic Mountain, Load Records, 2005
5. Lightning Bolt, Earthly Delights, Load Records, 2009
6. Panda Bear, Young Prayer, Paw Tracks, 2004
7. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago, Jagjaguwar, 2008
8. Cheveu, Cheveu, Born Bad Records, 2008
9. Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca, Domino Records, 2009
10. Converge, Jane Doe, Equal Vision Records, 2001

Marshall Stacks: Music editor, The Point, last true Ramones fan, pain in the ass.
What a year, what a decade (sigh)! I'll give it a try...
1. Neil Young, Archives Volume I, 1963-1972, Reprise Records
2. The Beatles Remasters, Capitol Records
3. Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Sign of the Three Eyed Men (Box Set), International Artists
4. Wolf Eyes, Always Wrong, Sub Pop
5. The Thermals, Now We Can See, Kill Rock *s
Decade (Note: The Avett Brothers would have been higher if not for their last release...)
1. Ramones, Ramones (Reissue), Sire / Rhino
2. Ramones, Road to Ruin (Reissue), Sire / Rhino
3. Ramones, Leave Home (Reissue), Sire / Rhino
4. Ramones, Rocket to Russia (Reissue), Sire / Rhino
5. The Exploding Hearts, Guitar Romantic, Dirtnap Records, 2003
6. Radiohead, Amnesiac, Capitol Records, 2001
7. Tom Waits, Alice, Anti, 2002
8. Television, Adventure (Reissue), Elektra, 2005
9. Neko Case and Her Boyfriends, Furnace Room Lullaby, Bloodshot Records, 2000
10. The Avett Brothers, Introducing... Emotionalism, Ramseur Records, 2007

Jack Partain, Editor, The Point. AKA, "the guy that isn't going to let Marshall write smart ass comments about him here".
1. The Felice Brothers, Yonder is the Clock, Team Love Records
2. The Flaming Lips, Embryonic, Capitol Records
3. The Mountain Goats, The Life of the World to Come, 4AD
4. Vic Chesnut, At the Cut, Constellation Records
5. Assjack, Assjack, Curb Records
1. Godspeed You! Black Emporer, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antenna's To Heaven, Constellation Records, 2000
2. Sodastream, Looks Like a Russian, Trifecta Records, 2000
3. Whiskeytown, Pnuemonia, Lost Highway, 2001
4. Sun Kil Moon, Ghosts of the Great Highway, Caldo Verde Records, 2003
5. The Mountain Goats, Tallahassee, 4AD, 2002
6. Red House Painters, Old Ramone, Sub Pop, 2001
7. The Great Lake Swimmers, Ongiara, Nettwork Records, 2007
8. Royal City, Little Hearts Ease, Rough Trade, 2004
9. The Avett Brothers, Introducing... Emotionalism, Ramseur Records, 2004
10. The Mountain Goats, The Coroners Gambit, Absolutely Kosher, 2000